ATLANTIC CITY - The famous quote about the late actress and dancer Ginger Rogers stated she did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels.
During the musical revue, "Believe - Divas in a Man's World," at Resorts Casino Hotel, entertainers recreate the curvaceous chest, high heels, big blonde hair and tiny waist of Dolly Parton, the fluttering of the hands and eyelashes and the flip-off-the-shoes, exuberant stage antics of Patti LaBelle and the high-kicking, bring-down-the-house showmanship of Liza Minnelli.
The performers in the show not only have to learn all the mannerisms of the stars they are portraying, but they have to transform their male bodies and faces to look like the iconic women they are playing on stage as most of the entertainers in the revue are men acting like women.
Anya Berges, 28, of Mays Landing, attended a recent weekday performance. She had never attended a female impersonator show before and was impressed by the stage magic.
"It's incredible how they can do that," she said. Berges came to the show on the recommendation of her husband, who had seen it and loved Phyl Craig's portrayal of Minnelli. Berges left the show a believer, too.
"It was great, well worth seeing," she said.
Apparently, many people feel as Berges does. "Believe" is becoming an entertainment staple at Resorts.
The show launched in May and was originally booked to run until July 25. That booking was then extended through the end of 2011. The show went dark for the first few weeks of 2012, but returns
9 p.m. Thursday in the Screening Room at Resorts for an indefinite run.
The success has left Steven Andrade, the show's creative director and co-producer, still feeling a little overwhelmed.
"People that do what I do ... this kind of stuff doesn't happen to us," said Andrade, who also performs as Cher during the show. "It's like you go in there for three days ... or you come in for a three-month contract, then, you are out, and then, you're bouncing back trying to find the next gig,"
"Divas" is the first show veteran female impersonator Andrade has been the co-producer of that featured more performers than just himself.
In addition to Cher, the show features men dressed as Parton, LaBelle, Minnelli and Joan Rivers.
Andrade had produced the show during a three-day stint in Monterrey, Mexico, - it's only other casino gig, before bringing his wigs, false eyelashes and high heels to Resorts.
The success of the show means a great deal to the performer, who poured his dreams and ambitions into the production in much the same way as he pours himself into his replica Cher gown.
"As I was growing up, I always loved Dolly Parton. I've always loved Liza Minnelli. I've always loved Prince. All the characters that are in the show now I really and truly love as entertainers," Andrade said. "For me to be able to bring that set, my dream set, to life using the performers in the show has always been a dream of mine."
Dennis Gomes, Resorts' co-owner and CEO, took a chance hiring Andrade to bring "Divas" to his casino. Gomes offered Andrade his own show after seeing him perform once.
"There was something about him where I just had a lot of faith in his ability to produce because he told me he made his own costumes. His costumes were magnificent, and I figured if he can do that, if he's got the skill, the creativity, the productivity to do something like that, he certainly could put the show together," Gomes said.
Gomes said he knew he had a hit when he saw his first "Divas" dress rehearsal. That feeling only grew when the performers appeared in front of a paying crowd.
"When I saw it for the first time with an audience, it was even a little more surprising that the audience went crazy. It got four standing ovations. The audience was screaming and staying up and clapping. I was pretty amazed by that. Normally, shows like this don't pay for themselves. This one pays for itself with the cash revenue that comes in, and we get all the free seating for our comp guests. Everybody wants to see it," Gomes said.
Resorts is trying to be a gay-friendly destination with the first GLBT - gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender - casino night club, Pro Bar, and other activities, but Gomes' said the show appeals to more than just the GLBT community.
"I'm talking about an audience that is a very mixed audience. More than half of them are straight people, maybe a third of them are gay," Gomes said.
"Divas in a Man's World" is following in the footsteps of "An Evening at La Cage" at the former Bally's Park Place. That show, which ran from 1984 to 1993, was at one time the city's longest-running casino show.
Other female impersonator shows have been hosted by the casinos here since then including: "Cowboy La Cage" with Parton, Lorrie Morgan and Reba McEntire tributes; "Camouflage Aux Folles" with portrayals of Judy Garland, Carol Channing and Barbra Streisand; "Bill Lloyd's Masquerade: A Celebrity Impersonator Revue" with characterizations of Cher, Diana Ross and Tina Turner among others.
The Miss'd America Pageant took place from 1991 to 2004. It returned in 2009 and is now held in its biggest venue ever, the 2,800-seat ballroom in Boardwalk Hall here.
The Miss'd America 2012 event will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday at Boardwalk Hall.
"Divas in a Man's World" looks to be the longest-running female-impersonator revue here since "An Evening at La Cage." Gomes thinks he knows why. The size of the Screening Room, with only 320 seats, plays a big role, he said.
"That little showroom from the 1920s that had some of the greatest performers in the world back in the 1920s and 1930s, I think that is the perfect room for something like this. It creates a synergy that is more powerful than the sum of components," said Gomes, who added he wanted to do a show like this, but never had the right venue. "You can't do it in a real big showroom."
Contact Vincent Jackson:
'Believe - Divas in a Man's World'
Returns 9 p.m. Thursday for an indefinite run inside the Screening Room at Resorts Casino Hotel, Atlantic City. Tickets, priced at $25, are available at the Resorts box office or www.pressofatlanticcity.com/tickets